Already without quarterback Tommy Rees and linebacker Carlo Calabrese for Saturday’s season opener against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, because of suspension, Notre Dame will be without one of its best offensive weapons too.
Keith Arnold over at Inside the Irish reports that running back Cierre Wood has been suspended for Saturday’s game, and perhaps longer. Notre Dame’s independent student newspaper, The Observer, has also confirmed and contributed to the story. Brian Kelly later confirmed that Wood, along with defensive end Justin Utupo, would be suspended two games for a violation of team rules.
“Our players are aware of the standards I set for our program and that failure to meet my expectations will result in consequences,” Kelly said. “Justin and Cierre violated our team rules so I’ve suspended them for the first two games of the season.”
Apparently, though, it wasn’t a sudden move:
While the news stayed air-tight throughout the preseason, the suspension isn’t news to Wood or the running back depth chart. While the senior from Oxnard, California has taken reps with the first team — as recently as yesterday — the position grouping has done its best to adapt to the situation, working in reserves Riddick, Atkinson, and cross-training running back-turned-cornerback-turned running back-again Cam McDaniel in case of an emergency. (Slot receiver Davonte Neal and transfer Amir Carlisle are also capable options.)
It’s a big loss, bigger than Rees to be honest. Everett Golson was named the starting quarterback for Saturday’s game last week and there’s a good chance he will remain the starting QB if he plays well.
Wood, on the other hand, was a 1,000-yard rusher last season and averaged over five yards per carry. Reportedly replacing him for a game (or longer) won’t be impossible — or maybe that difficult — but there’s no denying the playmaking ability Wood brings to the football field.